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Crusaders player ratings vs Moana Pasifika | Super Rugby Pacific

By Jack O'Rourke
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders welcomed Moana Pasifika Friday night in Dunedin to kick-start round three. Moana Pasifika finally got their Super Rugby Pacific campaign underway after a stalled start, missing out on the first two rounds due to Covid-19 cases in their camp. 

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Scott Robertson confirmed a raft of changes to play Moana Pasifika, choosing to rest players and test their squad depth. It was arm wrestle early in the match, with Moana Pasifika scoring their first try in the team’s history to open the scoring. 

Eventually having to make so many tackles with no possession took its toll on Moana Pasifika and the Crusaders machine kicked into gear to close out the game with a bonus point. 

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Here’s how the Crusaders rated:

1. George Bower  – 6

The All Blacks prop hit the rucks hard and had some handy carries. Was solid at set-piece time and prevented Moana Pasifika from gaining any proper advantage in the scrum.

2. Brodie McAlister – 5

Was solid at line-out time against not much resistance from the Moana Pasifika forwards. Was able to find a few open spaces during the match.

3. Fletcher Newell – 5.5

Newell moved to the starting side for game day replacing Oli Jager who developed some calf tightness at training and was withdrawn from the game. Put pressure on the Moana Pasifika scrum but couldn’t turn the tide at crucial moments.

4. Mitchell Dunshea – 6

Opened the scoring for the Crusaders and was industrious around the ground. Was a target for the Saders at lineout time with five wins. Managed a charge down from the base of the ruck.

5. Quinten Strange – 6

Named as captain for the match, he asserted himself on the match in the forward battle. Was tireless for the full 80 minutes. 

6. Ethan Blackadder – 7 

Showed his typical abrasive style in carries off the ruck, showing no regard for self-preservation. Scored a try off a hard run in the corner for the Crusaders second try.

7. Tom Christie – 7.5

Coming into the game Christie was leading the tackle count for the whole competition and backed it up once again, with a team-high 12 tackles. Gave away a seatbelt tackle but won a crucial turnover when Moana Pasifika were raiding the Crusaders try-line. 

8. Pablo Matera – 7

Playing at the back of the scrum, the Argentine international stepped up his work rate and showed his physicality with some strong carries early, and was able to get the ball away on a number of occasions. Was their main lineout option, and even won the ball against the throw.  

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9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – 7 

Making his debut for the Crusaders, it was a chance for Triple T to get his career back on track. His service from the base of the ruck was quick and sharp. Subbed at half-time but staked a claim for the starting jersey.

10. Simon Hickey – 5 

Was thrown the keys to the Crusaders backline. Was more than serviceable running the cutter but couldn’t really get the backline going in the first half in the face of some staunch Moana Pasifika defence.

11. Kini Naholo – 7

The kid can play. Pullinng on the Crusaders jersey for the first time, he was a handful to bring down with some devastating tackle breaks and scintillating runs. Dropped the ball right on halftime, much to Moana Paskika’s relief. Showed some great footwork and even managed a 50/22 in the first half.

12. Dallas McLeod – 6

Was used as a battering ram at inside centre for the Crusaders, providing the team with the much-needed go forward to launch their attack. Carried nine times for 27 metres. 

13. Isaiah Punivai – 6

Punivai made his starting debut at centre. Was industrious but struggled to find a way through the Moana Pasifika defence early on. Warmed in himself in the game and put on some big hits. 

14. George Bridge – 6.5

Ran a great line off a Tom Christie ball to set up the Crusader’s opening try. Was hit hard early in the second half but it didn’t stop him from going in and looking for work on the inside shoulder of his playmakers. 

15. Chay Fihaki – 6

Looked dangerous at times injecting himself from the back. His defence and work off the ball went under the radar but he made some crucial contributions in the Crusaders ability to hold off a tenacious Moana Pasifika. 

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Reserves

16. Codie Taylor – 7 

Made his return from injury at halftime and scored right away off a rolling maul after the Crusaders turned up the heat on Moana Pasifika. Added another try on full-time to secure the bonus point. Taylor brought some much-needed structure to the Crusaders set-piece. 

17. Tamaiti Williams – 7

The man-mountain made his arrival known, almost immediately giving the Crusaders the ascendancy in the scrum by winning a penalty for his side. Continued to cause opposition problems while he was on the park. 

18. Abraham Pole – 6

Made his debut for the Crusaders after coming in as a late replacement. Got on the field in the 61st minute and scored a try with 10 minutes to go. 

20. Dom Gardiner N/A

Made his debut for the Crusaders in the 65th minute and made some positive contributions. 

20. Corey Kellow – N/A 

Got on the field towards the back-end of the game. 

21. Bryn Hall – 6.5 

Came on and continued the good work at the base of the ruck. Hall’s service was reliable as ever and he was able to tighten up the Crusader’s attack. 

22. Richie Mo’unga – 6

Underplayed his hand when he came on and couldn’t enforce his will on the game as he usually would. Was overwhelmed by the Moana Pasifika defence and shovelled a stray offload to gift MP’s second try of the night. Made amends when Crusaders quickly responded with a try of their own. 

 23. Kaveinga Finau – N/A

Got some touches towards the end of the game. 

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